News featuring Lifu Huang

Virginia Tech team selected as finalist in Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge to advance next-generation virtual assistants

One of 10 finalists in the Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge, Virginia Tech’s team members meet regularly for updates on their specific work and overall progress on the project. The winner will be announced in 2023. Photo by Andrew Cybak for Virginia Tech.

A Virginia Tech team from the Sanghani Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics is one of 10 finalists chosen to compete in the Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge. The challenge focuses on advancing the development of next-generation virtual assistants that continuously learn and gain the ability to perform common sense reasoning to help humans complete real-world tasks.

“The SimBot should be able to understand the intention of a task as well as any instructions or feedback it receives from a user and interpret the environment to correctly predict what action is needed to complete it,” said Lifu Huang, assistant professor of computer science and faculty at the Sanghani Center.  Click here to read more about how the team will tackle this challenge.



Discovery Analytics Center welcomes new faculty member Lifu Huang

The Discovery Analytics Center continually brings together computer scientists, engineers, and statisticians to meet the research and workforce needs of today’s data-driven society. This Fall, DAC welcomes new faculty member Lifu Huang. He has joined the Virginia Tech Department of Computer Science as an assistant professor, having earned his Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Huang’s primary research interests are in the fields of natural language processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence. He is specifically interested in building efficient models and benchmarks that can encourage machines to perform human-level intelligence.

His current projects include extracting structured knowledge with limited supervision; natural langue understanding and reasoning; natural language generation and representation learning.

As a graduate student, he was a research intern at Microsoft Research Asia; IBM Watson Research; U.S. Army Research Center; and Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), where he was recipient of the 2019 AI2 Fellowship.

Huang received a bachelor’s degree in software engineering from Northwestern Polytechnical University, China, in 2011 and a master’s degree in computer science from Peking University in 2014.